Saturday, October 26, 2013

Out on a Limb Apple CSA - 4th Share

Clockwise, from top left: 20 oz., Blue Pearmain, Grey Pearmain, Rhode Island Greening, Fireside

It would follow the week I'm in charge of splitting up the share that I end up with the fewest apples. Also not pictured, Frostbite, an apple variety that owes its existence to John Bunker. An interesting read over on the OOAL site. It's described by some as tasting like olives. Fortunately, I didn't get that flavor, but it was one of the weirdest tasting apples I've ever had. 

The Grey Pearmain apples taste like... wait for it... pears. I don't really care for pears, so this variety is perfect, with the texture of an apple and the flavor of a pear. 

The apple share is winding down and most of the varieties we're getting now store well and are recommended for saucing and baking. So I don't feel the pressure of fruit wasting in my crisper drawer. Although said crisper drawer is getting pretty full. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Urban Sugar at Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland had the grand reopening of their ReStore on Saturday and four food trucks were in attendance, ready to feed hungry shoppers. I went to the opening ceremony to support Roomie A. and boyfriend A. and of course, to check out the food trucks. 

The ReStore sells new and used building materials as the fundraising arm of Habitat for Humanity. The organization had outgrown its previous spot in Morrill's corner, and now they're in a spot three times as big out at Riverside and Warren Ave. They'll raise more money in a bigger warehouse and are perfectly positioned in that commercial corner of Portland to attract contractors and people shopping for home improvement projects. 

Urban Sugar Mobile Cafe, El Corazon, Gusto's Italians, and Wicked Good food trucks attended the opening day festivities. Food trucks are now legally allowed to cluster, thanks to the recent changes in the city's legislation. Hopefully food trucks will continue to cluster at the ReStore; the dining options are otherwise a little bleak out in this part of town. 

I was excited to try Urban Sugar Mobile Cafe. I've been following them online and their various facebook posts have been torturing me with pictures of hot donuts. After the speeches finished, the ribbon was cut, and the store doors opened, I turned on my heel and made a beeline for the donut truck.

Their fried mini donuts come in a single (6) or double (12) order of one flavor or a sugar rush, a pizza box full of donuts, with up to 2 flavors. Although momentarily tempted by the "sticky bun" flavor, I pretty quickly committed to "sweet pig," topped with bacon jam and maple frosting.

The maple frosting piped on top of the hot donuts quickly started melting and mixing with the bacon jam - which I assumed was just like candied bacon or something. But a few bites revealed that the jam also contained onions, creating a sweet and savory mix. The hot crunchy donuts, cool maple frosting, and salty bacon all mixed together was pretty fantastic. 

I also sampled the "rooty tooty," topped with fresh berries and whipped cream and the sticky bun flavor. Both good, but I loved the messy, decadent "sweet pig" the most. 

Flavors change daily and they frequently have some fantastic sounding savory donuts if sweet overload isn't your thing. They also serve Tandem coffee to balance the sweet. 

Find this truck before the end of the year, as they head to Sugarloaf for the winter! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Out On A Limb Apple CSA - 3rd Share

This is my third of a share from the 3rd delivery of the Out On A Limb CSA. Eight varieties of apples this time - the most yet. 

Clockwise from top: Cox's Orange Pippin, Wolf River, Nodhead, Wagener, Pomme Grise, Whitefield, Westfield-Seek-No-Further. (I think. I made careful notes and am still confused. I am eating the one pictured far right, and it's delicious. But I have no idea what variety it is.) 

The last share was made into a crisp using Grandy Oat granola in the topping. Just mix with a little brown sugar, butter, flour, and spices and sprinkle over sugar, lemon juice coated apples. The mix of apples created not only complex flavors, but was a nice mix of textures too (some broke down, some stayed in chunks). 

I am impressed with people's (seemingly Mainers') ability to remember which apples are good for what. I need a crisp, tart variety for this recipe? I have no idea. Some people up here are all, oh, you need Jonah Gold. Um, OK. Good on ya. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Showing Off Portland Food

The title of this post has two meanings, and I'm going to bury the lede here by telling you about my friends' recent visit. Two chefs from the other Portland came to visit me, and you know I love to play food hostess. 

A walking tour of yEast Bayside impressed - with a tour and tasting at Maine Mead Works, cornhole and beers at Bunker Brewing Co., the Rising Tide Brewery Figue release party and Small Axe's Lightening Smokestack burger snacks, and some cider and kombucha to ease us back down at Urban Farm Fermentory

Dinner choices were deliberated over carefully, with a late night 'feed me' (their 7-course tasting menu) from Bar Lola acting as a form of entertainment in and of itself. We were all served different courses, so 21 dishes in all, and it was a treat to eat with people who love to talk about food even more than I do.  

Desserts at Bar Lola

Eventide Oyster Co. served us a perfect dinner with their small courses allowing us to sample and share. Our server gave genuine thought to variety of Maine oysters we asked her to select for us - thoughtfully adding an extra when we mentioned that two of us had tried the Pemaquid variety the night before, but the third hadn't. 

The limpet special, small sea snails served in the shell with jalapeno, citrus, and ginger was unexpected - bright yet creamy. When we went the oyster bun route instead of the lobster roll, our server brought my guests a brown butter lobster roll, because she wanted them to sample their version of the Maine staple. A fabulous dining experience in every regard, as usual. 

Lobster rolls at Bite Into Maine at Fort Williams park were another winner. The best lobster roll I've had with a view of the lighthouse and the Atlantic? Check that off the list. 

While football games necessitated that we spent close to seven hours at Binga's (admittedly not the first spot I take out of town guests, but mine were happy to have good East Coast wings again), Silly's takeout was the perfect way to wrap up a day of drinking. 

My other Portland food project that has been occupying a lot of my time, taking me out to meet with Krista Desjarlais of Bresca and the Honey Bee (on Sabbathday Lake, pictured above), to Rosemont Market to meet with Joe Appel, and out to Smiling Hill Farm to meet Silvery Moon Creamery cheesemaker Dorothee Grimm, is my upcoming book Portland Food: The Culinary Capital of Maine.  

The book is published by The History Press and due out June of 2014. In 40,000 words, I'll tell the history of the Portland food scene and highlight some of its interesting players. I've been interviewing farmers, fisherman, chefs... all of whom bring something different and interesting to our vibrant food scene. 

Everyone has been very open and generous in the interview process, and I'm so grateful. Now to write and write (and interview some more) and to continue to go on adventures with my friend Greta who is graciously lending her serious talent to the photos. 

Thank you all for your support - if the Blueberry Files weren't thriving, the publishers never would have reached out to me. I'm looking forward to sharing my take on our great city's food scene with you.

If you have anything/one you'd like to suggest I include, please leave a comment, send me an email (blueberryfiles at gmail dot com) or a tweet.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Out On A Limb Apple CSA - 2nd Share

From top right, clockwise: St. Lawrence, Maiden's Blush, Sharon, Whitney Crab, and Wealthy. There was also one St. Edmund's Russet that was eaten before I took this photo - it was pear-like and delicious. But I haven't done anything with the apples that's worth sharing, just a lot of eating apples fresh and one uninspired, slightly too tart pie. 

V. has made apple peel bourbon that is apparently delicious and a crisp. I too shall go the crisp route soon.